Posted October 11, 2000.
We have received a report that stone carvings have been destroyed and possibly looted at the site of Aguateca in Guatemala. Almost all of the trees in the plaza have been cut down, including large cedars and mahoganies.
About a month ago armed men showed up at the site and threatened the custodians, demanding pieces that they claimed had been left in the bodegas by the restorers. Informed that there were only insignificant fragments in storage, they marched the caretakers to the plaza and demanded to know the whereabouts of a tomb. They then proceeded to clear the dirt from an area surrounding a plastic tarp left by the archaeological project, causing a great deal of damage but apparently finding nothing.
The custodians were frightened away and have not returned to their posts. But one risked coming back to the site in recent days and reported that Stela 19, which was discovered last year by the archaeologists, had been shattered with a pick ax. It was impossible to say whether pieces had been removed.